Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Post Tomorrow for Under The Sheets-Shhh

You can make me take a break for the holidays, but you can't keep me from my readers!

New post tomorrow! Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays: Break from Posting

I just wanted to wish you and your family very happy holidays and a Happy New Year! Thank you for following me on my journey of writing and I am enjoying getting to know you and your inner thoughts. I know that 2009 will be a great year for all of us. My holiday wish for you, is to take a couple of days off and enjoy Christmaskwanzaka.

No matter where you are in the world celebrating Christmas, like watching Santa on water skiis in Florida or watching movies and eating Chinese food in San Francisco, I wish you a happy holidays.

Please forgive me, but I won't be posting for a few days. In lieu of my radio silence, I hope that you enjoy some of my favorite posts that maybe you haven't seen. Take a look and I'd love for you to comment on the different topics.

Travel: Travel Shots for Brazil
Beauty Tips on a Budget: Beauty, Life and Style
The Best Bagel Restaurant: No Holes About It!
Recipe on A Budget: French Cut Green Beans with Almonds, Lemon and Fried Onions
Dating, love and our relationship: Chapter 2 Work Friends First
Cable Car Confessions San Francisco Travel: Cable Car Confessions #3

Some of my goals for 2009 with this blog are to come up with a wonderful, short and catchy domain name to create a site. Maybe you can help me come up with a name like lululemon or NOTCOT ? In 2009, I would like to continue to write for this blog on several topics such as relationships, manic depression, recipes, travel and child development. Tell me, are there any topics that you would like me to write about in the New Year?

To my blogger friends: Here is my linking holiday present for you. I hope you like it. Thank you for being so supportive to me and to Under The Sheets-Shhh. La Belette Rouge, Georgie B, pj, Braja, Simplicity, Miss Musing, Cuckoo and Miss Anne.

I'll write to you soon,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cable Car Confessions: New Years Eve

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." At the end of December I start to look back at my year to see what was learned and what I could have done better. This is also the time of year where we start to figure out what we will be doing for this New Year's eve. Here is my own cable car confession from last years New Years 2008 in San Francisco.

It's usually hard for people to think that the cable car is my form of public transportation. Like all public transportation the cable cars have good and bad days. On the bad days, the cars have a hard time functioning like if there is a traffic jam or a cable car ran off the tracks. It seems that whenever it really counts and there are no cabs around, I hear the ding of the bell and I am rescued by a cable car and taken through San Francisco.

We brought in 2008 with some really good friends and their cousins to a party on top of the Bank of America building which is located in the financial district. My home is only 8 blocks from the Bank of America building and it usually only takes me ten minutes to get there, but because it was New Year's it took us thirty minutes. We were all dressed up, taking pictures of each other and yes I was wearing glitter and a red New Year's hat. Weren't you?

The party was at the Carnelian Room, which has a 360 degree view of the city, and usually a stuffy restaurant, filled with tables and business men having after work cocktails. For New Year's the Carnelian Room became completely different. The room was turned into a club, a poorly run club, with too many people and questionable outfits. We had fun, watched the fireworks over the city, danced until 2am and then started to feel claustrophobic :) Well maybe I just did.

Honey and I left the party at the Bank of America building at the end of the night. We left the party thinking that it would be difficult, but not impossible to find a cab. It was actually like Mission Impossible. All cabs were already taken or the cab prices were up so high that it felt like highway robbery. While standing on the street we were approached by a Town Car that wanted $20 to take us the 8 blocks, but the cable car was right behind the Town Car calling to us. This cable car was decked out in white lights, A New Year's sign and people waving to us. I thought "There's my cable car smiling and welcoming us."

We boarded the cable car and sat down on an outside seat in the open air. This was such a nice and romantic start to a brand new year together. We waved to the cable car driver and wished him a Happy New Year. He was bundled in warm clothes, holding onto hand warmers and his cheeks were rosy. He smiled to us and then shouted to the cable car next stop Grant Street.

The cable car happily pulled up the California street cable car line while the riders talked and sang together. When it pulled up the hill I could look down on my city and start to make my New Year's resolutions and be thankful for how far I've come. I held my honey's hand tight and smiled at him. I said out loud "Thank you for a wonderful year. Here's to 2008 being the best year ever!"

I am planning to spend this New Year's low key. I wonder what will happen on this New Year's. Do you have plans yet? Are you going to be with lot's of people? What do you think 2009 will bring to you?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Recipe

One of my favorite things to eat and make during the holiday season is Chocolate Peppermint Bark. What is it about candy canes, peppermint mocha's and peppermint bark that tells me that Christmas to coming? Here is a great holiday recipe on a budget for you to try.

You can leave this treat in some lucky guys stocking hanging on the fireplace. After the bark has cooled, I like to present this treat in a small glass container. Try to not forget the holiday bow :)

12 oz. of dark chocolate chips or white chocolate chips
5 regular sized candy canes
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
Hint: To give the bark that holiday feel, you can add red food dye to the melted white chocolate chips.

1.Break up peppermint candy into little pieces.
Hint: To get the candy canes crushed, try putting the canes into a freezer bag and then hitting them with a heavy pottery mug. You can use the bottom edge of the mug to target larger pieces. Once the pieces are small enough, pour them into another plastic bag so you can sprinkle them over the melted chocolate.

Melt the chocolate. I use a double boiler to melt Trader Joe's dark chocolate chips. Once melted, add the peppermint extract and stir.

2. Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in with yours hands.

3. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

You can make bark with almost anything, including nuts, mini marshmallows, and dried fruit.

What is your favorite dessert that tells you that the holidays are coming? Do you think it's strange if I want to make Chocolate Peppermint Bark in the summer?

Happy almost Holidays to you and to your family!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dr. Laura's Advice: Raising Children with Consequences

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a child and just known that they were going to have a difficult time growing up? As if the cards are already stacked against them? Here is a case that I worked on while I was a social worker in Southern California. I hope that you can see that positive and negative consequences work with raising children. I believe that each child is unique and creative; we just have to be unique and creative in working with them. Let me know if some of my child development advice helps you.

Some background on how a child and family agency works: Each week the therapists, counselors, interns and teachers meet to discuss upcoming, current and closed cases. This meeting is a safe and confidential place where children's names are changed. After a family would come to the agency for therapy a case file would be opened. If a child was recommended by their therapist that case would be introduced at our weekly meetings. We would collectively decide who would be the best case for each counselor and also devise the right game plan in helping that child and family.

This is how I first heard about "Mark". Mark was presented at out meeting as an at risk child. He was twelve years old, in middle school and was just suspended from school for picking fights. His parents were teenagers when they had him, got married and divorced before Mark was two. His mother was out of the family picture and left home when Mark was three years old. Mark was raised by his very young father and grandparents. During this time Mark's father entered into a gang and got into a lot of trouble when he was a teenager. He had been arrested three times.

Can you see what I mean by just knowing in your gut that it's going to be very hard for Mark to stay out of trouble in his life and to not have relationship issues?

The team of counselors chose me as his counselor. I felt for Mark and needed to teach him respect for authority right away. I believed that without having respect for authority, Mark would never fear consequences like suspensions, break ups, gangs or jail. Even though Mark and I came from two totally different backgrounds, we connected right away. Well, we did, until I gave him negative consequences for his actions. To show him positive reinforcement, I asked Mark to be in charge of some of the younger children at his school. I gave him the points binder and he proudly carried it with him every day. The point binder gave him the authority to give and take away children's earned points, with my supervision, and he was responsible for choosing a star student each week.

Building from here, I started to have individual therapy meetings with Mark's dad. I suggested that for Mark's sake that he start to try and keep the gang activity and women away from the house. At first this was met with a lot of resistance, but after seeing Mark's improvement in his behavior, his dad was willing to try.

I can remember the first time Mark exploded in anger at me when he didn't like what I had to say. Mark who was very short for his age, threw the point binder across the room, screamed at an entire room of students and stormed off of the premises.

I called Mark's father and let him know what had happened. The next day Mark returned to school escorted by his father and he was very quiet and apologetic to me. Mark and I were able to talk through what happened and began to work on his anger. He admitted that he learned his anger from watching his father use anger at people and gang members to get what he wanted. He promised he would try to keep his anger in check and continue to come to his therapy sessions.

Mark showed signs of dyslexia in class and had never had one on one attention at school for a teacher to realize that he had a learning disability. Mark's dyslexia made him feel slower and not as smart as the other students in his class. This angered him. After some testing and a one on one tutor Mark showed that he could learn, but in different ways.

Stay tuned for Part 2. What do you think will happen to Mark next? Was this a success story? 2 out 5 cases usually are. Have you ever known a child like this?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Love Story: Our First Date

For a year before we kissed we had talked a lot. A lot about our lives, a lot about what we wanted to happen in the future and about ourselves. We stopped talking that night. We paused and started kissing. Everything felt so right. Everything felt so comfortable. Was the person that I had been looking for my entire life in front of me this entire time? Where do we go from here. And then I told myself to stop thinking, enjoy and keep kissing.

The following night honey asked me out on my first date. I was so excited to see him. Things had changed between us and I felt love and butterflies inside. I got all dressed up for our date, sprayed my neck with my favorite perfume, and straightened my hair. I was finally living my own life, living in the city that made me happy and ready to move on with my Honey.

He arranged our first date night...

My doorbell rang and I was a little nervous to see him. I asked myself should I kiss him right away or give him a bear hug. As soon as I saw him all of my nerves went away and I found myself kissing him. Our lips touched and we clasped hands.

The first stop on our first date was to the Bank of America Building to the Carnelian Room for drinks. The Carnelian room has the most spectacular 360 degree view of the city. I remember wearing knee high boots and a skirt. I will always remember the boots because they hit my leg in the wrong way, right where the incision from my surgeries are on my left knee. We ordered some drinks and I noticed how nervous we both suddenly were. We were gazing into each other's eyes and there was an awkward silence.

Honey said to me, "I don't usually have nerves... I don't know what to say right now."

So I said to my Honey "Then just kiss me."

After drinks I wanted to see the holiday lights and trees in the financial district so we walked holding hands. Then we hailed a cab where Honey had made a reservation at a Greek restaurant that overlooked a park. He had thoughtfully chosen a Greek restaurant because he had remembered a picture that I had on my desk at our office of the Greek Island, Santorini. It was a place that I have never been to, but is so beautiful, with the perfect pristine blue ocean, flowers and white buildings.

After dinner we walked to the park, where I noticed that the sky was glowing from a full moon. I huddled up close to my Honey and put my hands in his pocket of his jacket to stay warm. I promise that up until this day, neither of us had believed in public displays of affection, but we kept kissing while standing in the street. We were that couple. It was a perfect first date. Tell me about your best first date?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Adults Santa Letter: Have I Been Naughty or Nice?

Dear Santa It Wasn't Me: I think I was both naughty and nice this year and would like a naughty and nice present from you. After looking over my lists can you tell me if you think I was good or bad girl?

This has been a great year for me which was filled with lot's of learning, love and laughter. And with only 10 days until Christmas, I was hoping that you could let some of my indiscretions slide. I won't tell you if don't! If you agree to keep some of these secrets between us then I promise to spread your Christmas cheer by eating a lot of candy canes. Deal?

Should I start off with my naughty or nice list?

Uh I think naughty of course!

My Naughty List

1) I've had impure thoughts. Very impure.
2) I didn't eat all of my vegetables on my plate.
3) I opened wide for the dentist.
4) I told my father to get his own slippers. Twice.
5) I might have said some unkind thoughts about Sarah Palin.
6) I swore too much and I don't feel bad about it, at all.
7) I might have put a Hanukkah ornament on the Christmas tree.
8) Forgive me, but I loved the 50 foot larger then life picture of David Beckham wearing only his underwear over Macy's in Union Square.
9) I spread the holiday cheer by having too many drinks at my work holiday party.
10) Vixen is my favorite reindeer.

My Nice List

1) This year I traveled to see lots of friends and family.
2) Santa, I promise to leave you "No Pudge Fudge" under the Christmas tree.
3) I listened and was a good friend to friends' and helped with their problems.
4) I pretended to be the penny fairy and dropped pennies as I walked down the street for others to find.
5) My room usually sparkles like tinsel on a Christmas tree.
6) I helped old ladies cross the street.
7) I raised money and gave my heart and soul to the AFSP.
8) I gave up my seat on the bus to my elders even though my knee was hurting.
9) If you get trapped in my chimney I promise I will help you out.
10) I did all of my chores and even enjoyed doing them.

Santa please bring lot's of gifts to my blogging friends. You can give them my presents. (Well maybe we can talk about that offline :))

Tell me do you think I've been naughty or nice? What kind of I present do I deserve from Santa this year?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our Love Story: Honey's Guest Post

My honey wrote this post to share with you about how he was feeling during the time we were changing from friends to falling in love. I am so glad that we can share with you our dating, love and relationship story of how we met... Oh and in honey's first draft of this post he called me a bulldog not just a real fighter :) I won in the editing room.
A few evenings ago, Laura, or more correctly, her lovely readers asked how I felt during our friendship phase leading up to her return to San Francisco. All I can say is that some things end up being too good to be true, like when you think you have chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream and you find cookie dough nuggets inside.

As we talked about her return to San Francisco, my first concern was for her recovery. I wanted to make sure she had everything needed to get better as quickly as possible. Her surgery was tough (similar to what football and basketball players go through when they tear their knee) and her recovery was tougher. However, I knew she would be fine, because Laura is as tough and positive as they come, no matter what the circumstances.

She's actually the first person I think about when I need to push through to get something done… Don't let her pretty prose fool you, she's a real fighter. =) Actually, shortly after we started dating, I went to Peru and did a four-day hike of Machu Picchu. Mind you, this was two cross-globe-travel days after a weekend trip to Vegas for my birthday, with friends. My aggressive travel planning guaranteed a pretty nasty case of altitude sickness on the hike.

Just picture the following: I am hiking up in the rain to Dead Woman's Pass (13,800 ft.) on the way to Machu Picchu. I'm thousands of miles away from home, a fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate… trudging in damp socks that got heavier with every step as the socks grabbed every wet dirt clump on the trail, carrying a bag of equally soggy and dirty clothes and hiking equipment, failing to properly digest some half cooked rice and vegetables, all while struggling for breath… The trail guides asked if I needed the oxygen tanks to help me out. Somehow, I found myself being able to keep pushing knowing how much harder Laura was pushing to get better and to be able to walk again. I made it through the four-day hike and home to Laura.

But I digress... as we talked about her returning to San Francisco from Los Angeles, it became very clear at how close we were and how much we enjoyed spending time together. After our little restaurant incident (which she wrote about in an earlier chapter), there was tension when it came to talking about our feelings for each other. That was definitely frustrating for me. It was increasingly awkward that we kept talking about our social lives, sharing stories without acknowledging what was right in front of us. I knew we were going to be great together, but wondered if we would give ourselves that chance…

I found our conversations, especially in the last couple of weeks before her coming back to San Francisco, to be like a game of Pictionary. Normally, not one to read into everything, I would think through our conversations and wonder what she actually meant. Is what she just said a clue that she wants more? How did she interpret what I said? Can she guess what I'm talking about? Do we have the same vision? The game can be fun, but not in real life.

In the days leading up to her coming back to San Francisco, I knew I wanted to bring the subject up again, and I tried to think of the best way to discuss it with her. How would you feel in this situation? What would you have done? What else can I tell you?

Signing off,

Monday, December 8, 2008

The BEST Grilled Cheese Recipe

I would have never believed you, if you had told me that I would love grilled cheese sandwiches as an adult and that they are capable of so many different flavors. I am sharing with you a great Grilled Cheese Recipe that we like to cook with.

My honey introduced me a couple of years ago to the love and creativity of food. We have taken cooking classes together and I now enjoy preparing meals. I am pretty sure that when I was a child I was the pickiest eater on this planet. If it was green I wouldn't eat it. I had no idea what a balanced meal was until I was in my twenties. I thought a balanced meal was ordering in or making reservations! :)

Honey is addicted to Alton Brown who is a chef on the Food Network. Addicted. Recently he bought a cast iron pan. When I asked him "Why did you buy this?" He told me that Alton Brown had recommended buying a cast iron pan to make THE best grilled cheese sandwiches. "Uh" I said "Like the grilled cheese sandwiches my mother use to make me on Wonder Bread and Kraft cheese when I was a child? I asked.

"Oh, no" he replied "Get ready to be rocked."

I so was. This recipe makes the stale bread crispy but not hard. Once you take a bite you can taste the butter, cheese, mayo (if you would like) and tomato all melting together. The warmth of the sandwich makes me think of my childhood and before you know it I've finished the entire sandwich.

Hint: Try making a cup of perfectly brewed earl gray tea with milk and two sugars to ease down the sandwich. You can also dunk this sandwich into Auntie C's Tomato Bisque Soup.

Grilled Cheese Recipe

8 (1/2-inch thick) slices country-style sourdough bread
12 ounces Monterey jack, farmhouse Cheddar, Gruyere, or imported Swiss cheese, thinly slices
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced, and drained on paper towels for 5 minutes.

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Place 4 slices of bread on a cutting board and generously butter the top sides of each slice.
3. Melt another tablespoon of the butter in the skillet; swirl around to coat the pan.
4. Lay 2 slices of bread, buttered side down, in the skillet. Put a few slices of the cheese on the bread. Lay the tomato on top of the cheese. Cover with a few more slices of cheese.
5. Place 2 of the remaining slices of bread, placed buttered-side up. Cook, without pressing, until the bread browns and the cheese is slightly melted, about 5 minutes.
6. Turn the sandwiches with a spatula and add a small hazelnut-size piece of butter to the pan. Cook slowly, adjusting the heat as needed to melt the cheese completely before the sandwiches are brown, about 3 to 4 minutes more.
7. Repeat with the other 2 sandwiches. Serve.

A great way to make grilled cheese is to use old/almost stale bread that you have lying around (e.g., "the bread you have leftover from the soup or french meal you cooked early in the week)

Have you ever tried making grilled cheese sandwiches with stale bread? Do you want to share and exchange recipes? I do. Email me at

Cuckoo asked in his comment "what was honey's feeling during all of this and how he felt." Stay tuned for Honey's Guest Post and answer on Wednesday 12/10/08.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How to Talk to Girls: Advice from a 8 year old boy

On The Today Show Thursday morning, we were introduced to a fourth grader who wrote the book "How To Talk to Girls." Alec Greven, a fourth-grader at at Soaring Hawk Elementary School in Castle Rock, Colo., began writing the book "How to Talk to Girls" — about the dos and don'ts of dating — when he was 8 years old.

Alec who is now nine, was so poised and seemed excited to share his advice from what he has learned in all of his years as a ladies man. They showed him sitting in the makeup chair before his interview smiling and getting his hair done. He didn't look nervous at all and seemed like a pro.

One of his most important pieces of advice that he gave to men that are trying to attract the ladies was for men to shower and to not wear sweat pants. He learned this from his own mother who in his own words "was a girl once too." He said "Showering really helps attract the ladies and so does not wearing sweat pants. Girls want you to show that you care about your appearance."

Questions and Answers from his Interview

What inspired you to write this book?
A: I saw boys around the playground having trouble getting girls — just not knowing what to say. I wanted to write a book that could help them.

Do you plan to write more about dating?
A: I might be writing "How to Talk to Girls II" for middle schoolers, then part three as a guide for high schoolers, and then [parts] four, five and six for college and after that. I'll write them when I get to each age — I don't think I could get past security guards at a high school right now to do research ’cause I look too young.

Girls 101 Learn the Basics

If you are in elementary school, try to get a girl to like you, not to love you. Wait until middle school to try to get her to love you. Otherwise, you have to hold on to her for a long time and that would be very hard.

Tip: Most boys in elementary school can hold on to a girl for only 30 days.Whatever happens, just don’t act desperate. Girls don't like desperate boys.

So what do you do if you have a crush on a girl? You need to get her to like you.
You can also show off a skill, like playing soccer or anything else that you are good at.
Tip: To get a girl to like you, talk to her and get to know her.

Excerpt from the book Chapter two: Crushes

Many boys get crushes on girls. But it can be very hard to get a girl to like you. Sometimes it takes years!

I loved when Alec was asked if he was dating anyone, he said no but after he goes on shows like the Today Show the girls at school seem more interested in him that day. (We can be so fickle.)

On behalf of all the ladies out there I would like to thank you Alec for showing us that Ladies Men at any age really do exist. I know from my own playground experiences that we all seem like little adults and feel like we know it all. I can also remember my father conveniently getting my baby pictures out on the coffee table to page of my naked pictures of me in a bath for my young dates to see.

I encourage all young fathers to read Alec's book. Daddies be afraid of the boys and girls together on the school playground. Be very afraid.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Second Blog Award for being a Kreativ Blogger

Last week, Miss Musing awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award. Thank you so much Miss Musings you really made my day. I found out that you had nominated me while trying to keep warm in Toronto last week. You really know how to spoil a girl.

Miss Musings said that she felt I deserved this award because "these are some very talented bloggers whose creativity shines through in their writing. What I admire most about them is their ability to write in a unique and interesting way in a voice that is all their own."

The directions for this award say I have to list 6 random things about myself and then pass it on to five other deserving bloggers.

OK here it goes six random and hopefully interesting things about me...... hmmmmm

1) My last name was almost Odgen not Aston. I am the first born generation Aston. When my father was 11 years old he chose our name Aston, after his favorite car the Aston Martin, when my Grandfather decided to change our name due to some family dealings in England. (Which is another story all together.)

2) I truly believe in deja vu, fate and things happening for a reason.

3) I have been dying my hair for so long that I cannot remember what my true hair color is. I used to look like snow white with very pale skin, blue eyes and dark brown hair. I have been red, all shades of brown, black and now it's highlighted. Thank you to my family members for taking pictures of me as a child so I have proof of what my natural color really is.

4) I do much better in the cold weather then in the hot weather. I think it's much easier to throw layers of clothing on then to cool down after you've over heated.

5) If I could I would skip meals all together. I would just eat dessert or chips for each meal. Tell me am I alone in this?

6) I hate horror movies. Cannot stand them. I am that one girl in the movie theater that jumps every time a scary thing happens on screen. I even jump at scary movie previews.

Now for my five nominations for the Kreative Blog Award. Drum roll please....sure sure it's great just being nominated. Each of these bloggers have such a unique way of kreatively telling their story as they see and feel it. I keep learning from all of you.

Tag your it.

Mary-Laure for her Kreativ writing on Aurea
Braja for her unique and deep blog, Lost and Found in India
Cassoulet Cafe for her blog, Cassoulet Cafe
Roxie for her fab blog Baby,When the Sun Goes Down
Georgie B for his thoughtful blog, Cedar's Mountain

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cable Car Confessions: The Pick Up Artist

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." These sounds are very familiar to San Francisco tourists and locals. What is the one thing that you have to do when you come and visit San Francisco? Ride the cable car. What we don't hear about are the stories from the cable car drivers. This is their job. They ride in the fog, sun, rain, and in traffic jams. Here is one of their stories.

Here is one of my own experiences, as the last couple of chapters I have written have been about me people watching on the cable car. I would consider myself pretty wise to the pick up artist and yet sometimes I find myself twirling my hair around my index finger or blushing when a guy tries to pick me up in a clever way. And then the reality show became popular on VH1. Do these tricks really work? Can a guy really get a woman to start opening up and talking to him because of the way he touches her arm? I pride myself on being able to recognize this kind of manipulation, but then I found myself on the cable car recently being faced with a man staring at me. (Sorry honey.)

It was a Thursday morning and I was taking the 8:24am cable car down California street to Market so I could walk to work. The cable car was packed and I was carrying several things with me. My oversized purse, my laptop bag and my lunch, so I could save for my Toronto trip (I think it was left-over Shepard's pie from the recipe I shared with you guys earlier). The weather was around 60 degrees and the fog hadn't yet lifted within the city. (The fog usually lifts in San Francisco later in the morning.) There were no seats available inside the cable car so I stood beside the cable car driver with all of my bags at the window and held onto the metal bar on the door for support.

Now this might sound easy, but it's really not. You have to balance all of your weight, with all of your bags and ride the cable car. Imagine being on a boat and having to balance. First the cable car climbs up the hill on California street and then dives down the crazy hill all while I am trying not to drop anything or fall.

Over the years, I have watched to see how well other riders balance themselves. I thought that because of my dancer background I was able to balance until this man, let's call him "mystery" (the pick up artist), told me otherwise.

After a couple of stops people got off of the cable car and I saw that there was a free seat inside the car. This is perfect. I can get off my feet and get some warmth away from the fog. "Mystery" sat down next to me. At first I didn't notice him and was deep in my thoughts of what I needed to do for my meeting in a half an hour. "Mystery" then smiled at me. I was startled - is he smiling at me?

"Mystery" had dark hair and lighter eyes and was wearing a light blue shirt. I could see no eye liner or huge fluffy hat, but maybe that was because it was the daytime!

"Mystery" asked me "I have a theory that maybe you can help me with?"

So this is a typical pick up line that is shown on the show. I recognized it right away and thought I really want to see this master in action so I said. "Oh really."

"Yes, can I ask you if you are a skier?"

"A skier?" I replied "Why?"

"Well," Mystery said "I was watching you standing and riding down on the cable car and my theory is that you were a skier which is why you kept your balance."

I replied "Well, I was a skier and I was actually born in Canada."

"Mystery" seemed pleased that I was talking and offering more information.

Mystery: "A Canadian, but I don't hear that you have an accent."

Me: "I moved to California when I was a teenager, hehe."

Mystery: "I am a snowboarder and my theory is if people stand like a snowboarder on the cable car and ride it down sideways then they understand the mechanics of snowboarding. You were standing there and took the ups and downs of the hill and to me you looked like a skier."

I giggled, "Yes, I use to down hill ski a lot."

And then Mystery ruined it all by asking, "Do you work around here and ride this cable car at the same time every day?"

I was snapped from his grasp and replied to him "Yes, my honey and I do."

Stay tuned for the next chapter for cable car confessions will be Chapter #6: New Year's

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Love Story: The kiss

We had finally arrived at my San Francisco apartment. I had waited 5 months, gone through a lot of pain and worked hard to get to this moment. Over the past months I had reevaluated where my life was going, found out who was there for me and decided that I needed to reopen my heart and welcome in a future... I had always wanted.

Future Honey helped me get out of the car and up the stairs to get into my apartment, before leaving to park the car. Once I had made it to the top of the stairs, I looked around at the familiar surroundings. Everything looked the same and yet different. "Chloe" helped me sit in my favorite, oversized, beige chair in the family room. Things were calm around me and I could hear the familiar sound of the cable car bell in the background.

"Ahhh," I thought to myself "I've missed those sounds."

I was finally home and then Honey walked in.

After catching up over tea, I realized that the football game was on. Chloe and Honey watched the game while I went to see my bedroom. Something that usually took me seconds to do took me forever - crutching down that corridor.

I opened the door to my bedroom and could see that there was a lot to do to feel comfortable again. I had rented my room out to a stranger on craigslist - my clothes, bedding and picture frames were all tucked away in drawers. Unexpectedly, future Honey followed me. He approached me from behind and gave me a "spoon hug" which made me feel excited and then also comfortable all at the same time. Do you know that the excited feeling? All I wanted to do was twirl some of my hair around my finger and giggle like a school girl.

The game ended and Chloe went home. Future honey and I went to my room and starting talking there for awhile. We laid down on my bed, stared into each others eyes and talked for what seemed like hours. I am sure I gave him my best kiss me eyes.

I kept thinking to myself, "Is he going to kiss me? Is this it? Does he want to? What will it be like?"

We talked and talked, but no kiss. We stood up together and I thought we were walking back into the family room when he stopped me in the hallway in front of my room. The hallway was dark. There was some light seeping into the hallway from my bedroom.
Future Honey pulled me close to him, kissed me slowly on the cheek... slowly on the chin... and then...

Finally..fireworks....future Honey had just become my Honey.

The kiss was so warm, so nice, so right When he pulled away from me and looked deeply into my eyes he said "It took me long enough."I knew my life had forever changed. Tell me about your first kiss with your Honey?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dr. Laura's Advice on Child Rearing

I can remember sitting in my fifth grade class and my teacher, Mrs. Katz, asking the class, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She then gave us time to think over our answer. After a few minutes, she went around the classroom to stand up and tell everyone about our ambitious futures.

Shyly and slowly each fifth grade student of Mrs. Katz's Bayview Glen Public School class, took their turn and said professions to her like "I want to be a doctor when I grow up or I want to be a fireman." And then came my turn. I stood up by my desk and said loudly to the class "When I grow up, I would like to be a child psychologist." The students laughed as they had no idea what that was. Well, I had no idea on how to even spell psychologist.

So even at the age of ten, I knew that I wanted to work with children and families. There was just something deep inside me that knew. Plus I wished when I was a child that a child psychologist would come into my home and make life better for my brother and me.

I went to college and got my degree in child and family studies. I then trained and worked for the state of California as a behavioral specialist. However, what prepared me the most to become a social worker, were my childhood experiences being in a family with two family members living with mental illness. What prepared me to become a social worker was from my experiences in my childhood with mental illness, my schooling plus my field experience. With that said, nothing prepares you for when a parent looks you in the eye and asks you if you have only known their child for 2 months then what makes you the expert on their child. That's when you have to work on building trust and respect.

I did have an extreme case, while working at the child and family agency, with a twelve year old boy. He had been suspended from his junior high school numerous times, had beaten up his younger brother, was very rude to his parents and at twelve years old was still wetting the bed. (The fact that he was wetting the bed told me that he had some deeper psychological issues inside of him and was crying out for help.)

His parents contacted our agency and asked for a young counselor (I was 24 at the time) to come and work with "David" at his home and at school. They asked for a younger counselor so I could still relate to him and he still could relate to me. Yet his mother still said to me "So how many children do you have?" When I answered none so far, she wanted to know how I could be of help since I didn't have any children.

After I had visited "David" parents and his younger brother's home it seemed that things were a lot worse then had been reported. I had found out that "David's" parents were fighting all the time, his father had just lost his job, "David" was about to be expelled from school and the only thing that "David" truly cared about was watching WWF wrestling. He would race home and turn on the TV without doing his homework and chores. Then he would play with his wrestling ring and figurines.

What would you do to help this child and his parents? My behavioral specialty background told me that he needed to care about life again and be rewarded with positive and negative reinforcement. I spoke this over with my mentor at the family agency and her advice was that "David" needed tough love. I first spoke to his parents separately and suggested that "David" needed a harsher approach. Boy did "David" hate me for awhile.

First thing that I did was limit his WWF wrestling TV watching until he had behaved well enough to gain back the privilege of watching again. We stripped his room of TV, video games, books, toys and only his bed and clothes were left. Then I suggested a rewards sticker chart. When "David" was kind to his parents and brother he would get a sticker. When he wasn't he would have to sit in his room for a period of time with nothing to do. Over time "David" really started to take pride in his achievements and every time he accomplished a task, like no longer wetting the bed, he would earn something back for his room like his video games and toys. Over a four month period "David" earned all of the things for his room and turned his life around.

After seeing all of his hard work, my own reward to him was to take him to the movies to see The Scorpion King starring The Rock (a wrestler). "David" was so happy. He did stay in school and although he still had some other difficulties he graduated from high school and is able to hold down a job.

Please check out my favorite red weasels blog and friend La Belette Rouge. Weasel this post is for you. It just so happens that La Belette Rouge now lives in the same city that I use to be a social worker in. I love her blog, the way she writes and how she sees the world!

My advice to anyone about child rearing is that every child needs to feel that their voice can be heard. We all want children to become productive members of our society and every child can do this with love and support. I think it could have been very easy to discard "David" as a lost cause, but instead we all fought back.

Tell me your thoughts on how you might have handled "David" if you had been his social worker? Do you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover regarding child development.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Love Story: Who pays for dinner?

I hugged future honey and "Chloe" at the gate and I was happy to see them both. I sat in my wheelchair while trying to convince them that my leg was much better. He brought the car round and Chloe waited with me to keep me company. I was sitting in the front seat next to honey and Chloe was in the back.

Throughout the car ride, we caught up and talked about funny memories. If felt like no time had passed. I found myself gazing out of the window and thinking back to when Honey and I were just friends.

We gave each other so many mixed messages during our friendship that it was like a year of being in a relationship without really knowing it. I felt so comfortable around him, but we came from such different backgrounds, experiences, religions etc.

And then there was the time that future Honey took me out a date. A date... an actual date that he had planned. The only problem was that I wasn't ready for us to date.

Future Honey asked me to dinner and I didn't think this was anything out of the ordinary. During work, we used to go out all the time to lunch and coffee. I was still dating someone else and he was seeing other girls.

That night, he picked me up and took me to his friends' Italian restaurant in the city. I remember, that he acted nervous And then it had occurred to me, that this was a date. At this time I didn't want to be more then friends with him.

His friend's restaurant was so nice. The walls were decorated with scenes of Italy, with intimate booths, candles on the table and faux vineyard grapes hanging from the ceiling. It had charm and was very quaint. As we walked through the restaurant doors, the cooks all waved to my future Honey and the owner's son came over to say hi and welcomed us. Honey was beaming from ear to ear. We sat down at a quiet booth and ordered some Chianti. He ordered me my favorite dish and made sure that we had Tiramisu for dessert.

We had finished dinner, when I realized that the check hadn't come. When I asked Honey about it, he told me that the bill had already been take care him.

He started to tell me that we should start dating ...each other. I was screaming inside my head "I'm not ready yet." At the end of this perfectly thoughtful, romantic and perfect date... I told him that I wanted us to stay as friends.

On our awkward drive home, I asked him if he had told any of our friends about dinner. He picked up the phone and called one of our co-workers and told her that he tried to take me out, but we were still just friends.

He then drove me home. I walked up into my apartment to find my two housemates home. They asked me how my night had gone.

I told them that I think Honey and I had just broken up.

"But your not dating?' asked my roommates.

"Yes, but he tried to take me out and I wasn't ready so we fake broke up."We started dating about about 6 months after this night. What a story? Have you ever had such a huge misunderstanding?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cable Car Confessions: The Little Boy and his Rockstar

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." These sounds are very familiar to San Francisco tourists and locals. What is the one thing that you have to do when you come and visit San Francisco? Ride the cable car. What we don't hear about are the stories from the cable car drivers. I can't imagine what they see and hear everyday. This is their job. They ride in the fog, sun, rain, and in traffic jams. Here is one of their stories.

Do you remember when you were a small child and some adults seemed like royalty to you? I can remember looking up to all of my teachers. Every word rang true to my young and impressionable mind. I really didn't question my teachers until I got into high school?

I also remember looking up to airline pilots. To me pilots were like rock stars. I asked the stewardess almost every time that we flew if I could go to the cockpit and meet the pilots. When we were allowed to meet the pilots they were so big to me and in uniform. I always wondered to myself if the pilots made airplane noises to themselves as they flew like we did when we flew our airplanes. After visiting the cockpits (which children are not allowed to do anymore) the co-pilot would give me a sticker in the shape of small wings which I placed on my shirt and wore proudly throughout the flight to show everyone that I had been to the cockpit.

A couple of weeks ago, on my commute to work, I witnessed what it must be like for a child to look up to a cable car driver. Cable car drivers must be so intimidating to children. They are usually huge men (you have to be to pull the two large levers and press the huge pedals at every block for hours each day) that wear uniforms and yell out to the cable car for tickets and about upcoming stops. They will also sternly let you know if you are standing in the wrong place or if you have purchased the wrong ticket.

My usual morning stop to get onto the cable car is the Leavenworth street stop. One morning I had noticed a father taking his children to school. They were an Asian family and even though I have seen this family several times, I have never seen their mother with them. His oldest daughter is around 7 and his son is around 4 or 5. They both have very large backpacks on with cartoon decorations. The kind of over-sized backpacks that make you place wagers in your mind on when the child will topple over from the additional weight.

This morning, I saw my regular cable car driver "Jose" and tried to find a place to stand as the cable car was packed with locals and tourists. Usually you can find a seat or stand inside the car, but on this day we were packed in like sardines. I stood next to "Jose" and tried to stay out of the way of his driving.

The father and his children were sitting inside the cable car and his son was peering through the window to where I was standing.

"Jose" I said to the cable car driver. "I think you have a fan."

"Jose" looked through the glass to see a small child staring at him. "Yes, they always take the cable car to school and get off at Powell Street. I smile and try to talk to the little boy, but he gets very shy and doesn't seem to speak a lot of English.

So I start smiling at the little boy and waved to him to come and meet "Jose." He shyly looks at me and stayed where he is seated. So "Jose" and I smile at him again and made some funny faces at to make him laugh.

He didn't crack. Nothing not even a little smile.

Then the families Powell street stop came and it's time for them to get off of the cable car. The little boy says nothing to us as he passes everyone on the cable car and his father carried him off the cable car safely looking out for incoming traffic. "Jose" and I started talking to each other again when we heard a small voice yelling to us.

It was the little boy being carried by his father down the street smiling,yelling and waving to "Jose" all the way down Powell street to his school. This made both of our days. Stay tuned for the next Chapter of Cable Car Confessions #5: The Pick Up Artist

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Auntie C’s Tomato Bisque Soup Recipe

I grew up in an English household surrounded by English accents and a lot of sarcasm. Did I mention a lot of sarcasm? My Auntie C was no exception to the rule. What always separated her from the English family bunch was her emotional and warm heart. I always think of Auntie C fondly and as a motherly figure to me. Try to picture my Auntie C and imagine her as my short haired, sarcastic, emotional, "sweetie" Absolutely Fabulous auntie.

One of my fondest memories from when I was a child of my Auntie was when she took me on opening night to see the Swan Lake ballet. (I think I was 11) I had been dancing ballet for a couple of years and was loving it. Ballet was a wonderful outlet for me. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire night and held her hand. It was magical evening.

While I was growing up in Toronto and from the times I have visited almost every year after, Auntie C makes wonderful soup. There is never a kick to them, but there is a warmth of childhood every time I slurp at some of her soup from my spoon. Below is the recipe so you can share it with your loved ones. This is really easy dinner recipe on a budget.

Tomato Bisque Soup Recipe

½ cup butter/margarine
2 medium onions diced
¼ cup flour
1 28 oz tin of diced tomato
5 cups chicken broth
A Pinch celery seed
2 carrots sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 whole peppercorns
½ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon sweet vermouth (don’t fret if you don’t have it – you could throw a drop of sherry in)
Chopped parsley/dill

Over a medium saucepan heat and melt the butter, sautee onions in a separate cooking pan. Add the onions and add the flour to the large saucepan; stir in the tomatoes, the broth and the seasoning.

Simmer for approx 45 minutes. Serve Tomato Bisque Soup with a little chopped parsley or dill. This soup also freezes superbly!! I like to serve this soup with either a grilled cheese sandwich on the side (that recipe coming soon) or with some croutons.

I hope you enjoy this dinner recipe on a budget and can imagine Auntie C in her blue kitchen with her frog figurines, cooking for us. Leave me a comment and let me know what dish your Auntie made for you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Love Story: Leaving on a Jet Plane

I booked my ticket home to San Francisco and I told my family I was leaving. It was hard for everyone. I had leaned on them for 5 months because of my two knee surgeries. Honey and I decided that he would pick me up from the SF airport.

Before I left L.A. I started to realize that we were in a relationship, and not just a friendship. Because of my injury and surgeries, I had to go to Physical Therapy about 4 times a week and continue to do exercises at home. I got to know my physical therapist and the other patients as we all supported each other. There was a man at PT 37, a retired Marine - who was in rehab for a shoulder surgery. We talked each time we were at an appointment together. One day he asked me out to coffee after our appointment and offered to drive me home.

I said yes to coffee and felt guilty the entire time. The truth of the matter is, I talked about my future Honey to the ex-Marine the entire time and about my decision to move back to San Francisco. I had a huge crush on my Honey. The ex-Marine asked me out again or if he could come and visit me in San Francisco.

I told him "Thank you, but no because I was involved with my future Honey". Retired marine man drove me home and that was the last time we saw each other.

At the airport....

Physically, I was very scared to travel by myself. I was weak and could only take a couple of steps on my own without crutches. I was humbled sitting in a wheelchair through airport security.

I kept thinking to myself that my future Honey would be at the San Francisco airport waiting for me. I just knew it would be OK.

I can do this!

Then my mind started to wander to what it would be like to see him. We had been through so much together over the last year and he had given me so much support.

I finally knew how I felt about him, but I had never fallen in love with a friend before. During the plane ride, I felt shy. Maybe he had changed his mind and didn't love me anymore as it had taken me so long to realize how I felt.

Should I kiss him or not kiss him when I saw him at the gate?

I told everyone who would listen to me on the plane that I was going home after 5 months of being away to tell my best guy friend that I was in love with him. (I am sure it was like Rachel on Friends when she was on the plane flying to London to stop Ross’ wedding)

Finally the plane landed. I could see the stewardess get the wheelchair ready for me. This was it...the moment that I had been waiting for had arrived.

I was wheeled off the plane. I was so excited to see him and my heart was beating so fast. Then I saw him standing at the bottom of the escalator. He had brought me a surprise. My girlfriend “Chloe” was with him. How could I kiss him now?

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Advice to You: from Me Dr. Laura

A wise person once said "Look at the glass half full." I totally agree with this and have lived my life by this motto. Here is some advice that I have learned and would like to share with you.

My Advice to You Is......

1) Always look at the glass as half full.
2) Pay yourself first!
3) Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. (This is before you have kids.)
4) Keep an umbrella at your home, in your purse and at work in case of a freak rainstorm that the weatherman forgot to tell you about.
5) Go and see some live music often, close your eyes and feel your spirit.
6) Cook more at home and go out less in the week. This helps you eat better and save more.
7) Prenatal vitamins help you feel healthier and grow your nails and hair faster.
8) Try to travel to a new city or country every year. Have you ever been to Brazil?
9) Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
10) Call your family and friends almost every day.
11) Say what's on your mind daily and do not back pedal.
12) Smile at least ten times a day. (Sometimes my face hurts at night from all of my smiling.)
13) When you feel yourself getting into a heated argument count to ten in your head and then respond. (If you don't care about the other person respond right away without counting.)
14) Airborne cures my cold and lessens my symptoms.
15) Did you know that all of Canada is having a sale? 20% off of everything...oh wait just their dollar is down.
16) Wash your face twice in the evening. (The first wash is to get your makeup off and then the second wash is to get off the the leftover stuff.)
17) To let a child know that they can trust you: smile, look them in the eye, do not talk down to them and if possible get down to their level. Now that I think about it, this works with adults as well.
18) "Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt and dance like no one's watching."
19) Try to have at least two months of your salary saved up at all times.
20) Everything does happen for a reason!

I love the #18 phrase " Work like you don't need the money, Love like you've never been hurt and dance like no one's watching." To me this means let go and enjoy life. To try and appreciate every day and not sweat the small stuff. We all need the money, have been hurt by love before and when we dance tend to be afraid that someone won't like how we are moving.
What do you think would happen if we all followed this sentiment every single day?

Let me know if you agree with Dr. Laura's advice and send me the advice that you have learned. Which of the numbers do you agree most with? Which do you disagree with?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cable Car Confessions: The Lonely Hearts Tale

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." These sounds are very familiar to San Francisco tourists and locals. What is the one thing that you have to do when you come and visit San Francisco? Ride the cable car. What we don't hear about are the stories from the cable car drivers. I can't imagine what they see and hear everyday. This is their job. They ride in the fog, sun, rain, and in traffic jams. Here is one of their stories.

This is a lonely hearts tale confession. I was riding on the California cable car line to work one morning. On this morning the weather was very deceiving. The sun was out, but there was a chill in the air. The cable car drivers were wearing thick coats and encouraging the women to sit inside the car so the doors could be closed for warmth.

I noticed a woman get on the cable car at the Taylor Street stop. She looked to me like she was in her late twenties. She was wearing a black, full length coat and gloves. Her shoulder length blond hair was pulled back into a pony tail which helped show off her large, black sunglasses. I noticed that she didn't smile or really show expression throughout the ride. Even when a small child of about six walked by her on the cable car she continued to stay somber.

The cable car driver had noticed this too and he tried to cheer her up. At this time the cable car was passing the Omni-Hotel San Francisco which is in the heart of the financial district. The cable car driver said to the woman "I bet I can cheer you up".

"Oh thanks." she said while pulling up the collar on her coat to her face to protect her from the chill. "I'm OK, there's no need. I just found out that my boyfriend is cheating on me so I don't feel like being cheered up."

The cable car driver said. "Your too pretty to be sad or to be cheated on!"

Then the cable car slowed down at the Montgomery stop right in front of the Omni-Hotel. Three doormen were standing in front of the hotel, dressed in full uniform. Our cable car driver yelled out to the doormen. "Hi Johnny."

"Hey you." the doorman replied

"The cable car is stopped for 2 minutes at the light. I have someone for you to meet."

Johnny, the doorman, smiled and jumped onto our cable car and shook hands with our cable car driver.

"Johnny I want to introduce to you this lovely lady who's just been cheated on. Can you imagine anyone cheating on her?"

So the doorman went over to the sad woman, kissed her on the hand, stared straight into her eyes and said "I would never cheat on you!"

Then the woman smiled from ear to ear.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Entry for the Proud Bookworm Award

Last week I was nominated for the Proud Bookworm award by poetica. Her blog is filled with beautiful poems and music. Thank you again and I proudly accept my award.

So, here is how the award works:

Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences...The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!!"

Well, the nearest book to me turned out to be Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The back cover describes the book as: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert. Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze.

I read this book years ago and for the record was very disturbed by it. I am pretty sure I didn't bring myself to finishing it.

Pg.46...hmmmm...where are you P.46?....oh there you are


She had been spiteful, if you please, at the age of one, when she used to throw her toys out of her crib so that her poor mother should keep picking them up, the villainous infant! Now at twelve, she was a regular pest, said Haze. All she wanted from life was to be one day a strutting and prancing baton twirler or a jitterbug. Her grades were poor, but she was better adjusted in her new school than in Pisky (Pisky was the Haze home town in the Middle West.)

I will pass the love on by nominating these four Bookwormers.....

Fancy Schmancy
It Is What It Is Sometimes
The Rest Is Still Unwritten
It's All About Me

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nana’s Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

I grew up with an English Grandmother who looked similar to Angela Lansbury and sounded just like Mary Poppins. Let me tell you, she makes the most amazing Shepherd's Pie! It's always so hearty and warm. When I am eating Shepherd's Pie it always makes me think of my childhood. I had Nana send me her recipe a couple of years ago and I added my own little twists to it to make it easier. I hope this is a great budget recipe for you. Try it out and let me know what you think.

* 9 potatoes - peeled and cubed (You can also use boxed masked potatoes from
Trader Joe’s which cuts down on time.)
* 2 dashes of paprika
* 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
* 1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce or ketchup
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 1 dash of mustard
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 cup of finely chopped celery and carrots
* 1 cup of chopped onions
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup of bread crumbs (if you don't have bread crumbs you can use corn flakes)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the potatoes and water to cover in a large pot over high heat. Boil for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef or turkey in a large skillet over medium high heat; drain excess fat.
3. To the ground beef, add the tomato sauce, parsley, Mustard to taste, salt, ground black pepper and carrots, celery and onions. In a separate small bowl, mix the eggs and bread crumbs with the beef/turkey.
4. Stir both bowls together well.
5. Place the mixture at the bottom of a deep glass pan and pack the mixture to the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Half way through the cooking mash up the mixture with a fork.
6. Drain the potatoes, mash and spread over the beef mixture keeping the beef mixture separate from the potato to make a pie. Sprinkle the potato top with paprika.
7. Place back into the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 more minutes.

Enjoy and this should make leftovers as well!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Ode to my Lululemon Pants: How much do I love thee Lululemon Reversible Groove pants?

How much do I love thee Lululemon reversible groove pants? Let me count the ways.

1) I love how you are always waiting for me at home, ready to stretch with me and make me feel chic and comfortable.

2) I love that no matter what I do while wearing you, you bounce back and seem to ask me for more. I have worn you on planes, on a 13 mile walk for the AFSP , dressed up for work, to yoga, on the weekends while doing laundry, walking on the Ipanema beach in Brazil, Queen Street in Toronto and Union Street in San Francisco. (Boy do I shop around.)

3) You never seem to fade, lose shape or complain that I am wearing you too much.

4) I can throw you into my suitcase and you never get wrinkled.

5) You always seem to fit no matter how my body is feeling.

6) I am almost at the point where I love you more then my jeans.

7) The store offers free hemming so you always fit me just right.

8) You have matching tanks.

9) You seem to help me in my yoga practice. Breath in and fall into downward dog position and smile as my pants come with me and keep the sweat away from my body.

10) You make me popular with the cool kids. (Well I can hope can't I?)

So I love you in so ways. A pair of Lululemon pants will cost you around $80 but they are totally worth the money. If you treat them right then your pants can last years and years. Plus Lululemon has sales all the time. This brand is so popular in Toronto that everyone wears the clothing line during the weekend. Go and try a pair out and let me know what you think!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I've Been Nominated for the Proud Bookworm Award

I was nominated for the Proud Bookworm award by poetica. Thank you poetica it feels great "just to be nominated." To claim my (cross your fingers) award. I have to:

Poetica wrote on her site "Miss Kiss herself at Lipstick Diaries presented me with the coveted "Bookworm Award". This being my very first blog award, I was of course thrilled! Many thanks, my sweet =)

So, here is how the award works:

Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences...The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!!"

Stay tuned as I go and find the nearest book.

Our Love Story: Opposite Parent Reactions

My little brother who was eleven at the time decided to have a heart to heart talk with my future honey.

"Listen you love my sister don't you?" asked my 11 year old brother.
Honey replied trying to play cool "You know, we're just really good friends who look out for each other."
Little brother "Come on, admit it, we all know. Our whole family talks about you loving Lala."
Future honey still trying to play cool "That's funny...I don't know what else to tell you. You should talk to Laur about it."
"You have to tell her you love her so she can love you back. Can you do it soon so I can be an uncle and a brother-in-law really soon!"

Future honey was left blushing.

It was only 6 weeks later, that I decided to return back to San Francisco. My family had asked me to move back to L.A., I had lost my job and was still not back to normal in terms of mobility. There was still something deep inside that told me I needed to return to San Francisco.

One night in November, while I was driving in the canyons of L.A. honey called me to tell me some great news. He had been given a wonderful promotion and a raise at work. I was so proud of him.

“What did your parents say when you told them about your promotion?” I asked

He replied “I haven’t told them yet. You were the first person I called!"

This was a sign for me. It showed me that he wanted me to be the first to know and how important I was to him. I knew in my gut that I was falling in love.

That night,I decided to book my ticket home to San Francisco and tell my family that I was leaving. It was hard for everyone. I had leaned on them for 5 months, but we all felt safe that honey would there to take care of me.

The countdown to me leaving L.A for San Francisco was a short one. I booked my ticket for December 2nd. This was a Saturday and little did I know the biggest UCLA game was on that day and honey was/is a huge sports fan.

I looked forward to getting back to my life. My family and friends in L.A. had all taken great care of me.

The day finally came Saturday, December 2nd 2006 and my father drove me to the airport. As I was thinking about kissing my future honey at the airport when I saw him, my father said to me.

" Laura I have something that I need to say to you. I don't know if you will decide to be with future honey, but if it's not him then you deserve someone exactly like him." I had just been given my father's approval and with tears in my eyes I boarded the plane...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations to President Obama: To New Beginnings

I wanted to share with you my political experience of helping out as a volunteer for the Barack Obama Campaign for Change over this past weekend. I was called by a volunteer on my cell phone on Halloween eve. The volunteer asked if I would like to come to the phone bank headquarters to call voters in swing states. I found myself saying yes and volunteering honey to come along as well.

It felt just like a scene out of a movie. Saturday, November 1st was a very dark, rainy and stormy day in San Francisco, so we had to cab it over to the headquarters. We pulled up to the building to see Barack Obama campaign signs out front. We walked inside with another gentleman who said out loud, as we escaped from the rain, "That's right, you have true dedication to come out in the rain to help out like this." Then we walked inside to become apart of a headquarters in a campaign that we all believed in. I felt like I was doing something that I believed in, and maybe I could help, in a small way, to bringing about change.

We signed in and went to have an orientation with about 10 other volunteers. In the morning the phone bank was calling Florida, but during our shift we were calling Colorado. We were given a list of about 40 people to call to encourage them to vote on November 4th. Below is the example of the script that we used:

Script Hello, may I speak with _____? My name is _Laura_ and I'm a volunteer with Barack Obama's Campaign for Change. I'm calling to ask you about your plans for voting in this election. Do you plan on voting in person on Tuesday, or have you already voted?

(If They Say They Won't Vote:) Well I hope you change your mind- just imagine how great it will feel to be able to tell people that YOU voted for change by supporting the Barack Obama in 2008! In case you change your mind, you can vote on Tuesday and the polls are open until 7 p.m.

(If Already Voted) Thank you so much for voting in this historic election!
Some of the more memorable calls were:

1) A 90 year old, undecided woman who's dog was barking in the background. She kept calling me "honey."

Me: Do you think you'll be able to go out and vote on Tuesday?
Undecided: Yes, but I can't decide who to vote for.
Me: It's great that you are going. Can I ask what is keeping you as undecided?
Undecided: I'm stuck between two candidates.... Ralph Nader and Barack Obama
Me: How will you decide?
Undecided: Well I know Ralph Nader doesn't have a chance in hell of winning, but I thought I would help.

2) An 11 year old boy answered the phone.

Me: Can I talk to your father?
Boy: He is not at home
Me: Do you know if your parents have voted?
Boy: I don't know about that stuff

3) I had a couple of wives question who I was when I asked to talk to their husbands. :)

4) There was a teacher sitting next to us and she got off a call and seemed visibly upset.

Teacher: I just have to talk to someone about this call.
Me: Sure we can talk.
Teacher: Well I just spoke with this 19 year old girl who said she was voting for McCain because she believes in his fiscal policy. This scares me so much as I am a teacher that works my ass off.
Me: You know, people of that age tend to vote the same as their parents. Try to think about the other people on the phone that you did reach.

I found volunteering to be a great experience that I would do again. It's rare in this world to feel apart of something and to feel that you can help make a difference.

Congratulations President Barack Obama!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One Vote

Election Day-2008 Presidential Campaign: Please Get Out There Today & Vote

Please go out and cast your vote today. It is the most important election of our time. Please go out and vote in this historic election.

No matter who is elected to become the next President of the United States, they have an unbelievably challenging job ahead of them to fix our economy, change the world view of us and bring change.

In 2001, I become a U.S citizen. I was so excited to complete the complicated two year process of being finger printed by the FBI, testing and finally I had a swearing in ceremony at the L.A. Staples Center (which was wonderful). I casted my first vote in the 2004 Presidential election. My first poll station was at a dark, seedy, motel/hotel in San Francisco and I voted with all walks of life.

I believed that my vote counted during my first election. I would still like to believe that every vote counts.

All of the world will be watching us today to welcome the change.

Please Vote!